Solomon Thomas

49ers GM Lynch: Colbert shows characteristics of 'big-time starter'

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AP

49ers GM Lynch: Colbert shows characteristics of 'big-time starter'

SANTA CLARA -- Just hours before John Lynch was announced as a Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist for the sixth time, he spoke glowingly about a young, promising safety.

Lynch was a nine-time Pro Bowl performer during his 15-year career. In his role as 49ers general manager, he saw a lot that he liked from seventh-round draft pick Adrian Colbert two weeks ago against the New York Giants.

Colbert, making his first career start, sustained a broken thumb early in the game. He still played every snap on defense, recorded four tackles and showed his range in the deep middle to break up two passes.

“That was a really, really good football game and he displayed some things in that game that are characteristics of a starter and a big-time starter,” Lynch said during a 45-minute session with reporters on Tuesday at Levi's Stadium.

The 49ers picked up the fifth-year option on free safety Jimmie Ward, whom they appear to view as their starter for next season. But Colbert has a chance to figure prominently in their future, too.

“If he plays like he did last week, you consider a lot of things,” Lynch said.

Here are other things you need to know from what Lynch said on Tuesday:

SOLOMON THOMAS ON TRACK
The 49ers invested the No. 3 overall pick on Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas. He appeared in eight games, with six starts, before missing the past two games with an MCL sprain.

Thomas has not been spectacular, recording 26 tackles and two sacks. But Lynch said he is pleased with Thomas’ development.

“I think some people are saying, 'The No. 3 pick, maybe perhaps should be a little more dynamic.' But his play has been solid," Lynch said. "We knew it would be a process. He's a young kid that I think, physically, he's going to grow in stature."

BODY MAKEOVER FOR JOSHUA GARNETT
Guard Joshua Garnett, a first-round pick of the 49ers in 2016, did not distinguish himself during the offseason program or early in training camp. Then, he sustained a knee injury with a lengthy timetable for recovery.

His timetable would have enabled him to play this season. But the 49ers opted to take “the long-term view” and place him on season-ending injured reserve to put him in a better position to realize his potential upon his return.

But, first, that means Garnett had to change his body composition. Lynch said he challenged Garnett and the team’s strength and conditioning staff to put in the work to make Garnett stronger, more agile and in better condition to succeed in the 49ers’ zone-blocking scheme.

“We certainly hope he responds,” Lynch said.

CONTRACT TALKS ONGOING
Whether it’s Jimmy Garoppolo, Carlos Hyde, Dontae Johnson, Eric Reid, Daniel Kilgore, Aaron Lynch or others, the 49ers have been active in discussing the possibilities of contract extensions.

John Lynch declined to speak about which specific players the organization is trying to extend beyond this season – only to say there are ongoing talks.

“I will tell you there are players we’re talking to their representatives, but I’m going to get into who, when, why,” Lynch said.

BOOKEND TACKLES PART OF THE PLAN
The 49ers are allowed to enter into extension talks with Trent Brown after this season. Whether they are able to work out a long-term contract remains to be seen, but Lynch made no secret he hopes he can keep the tackles together into the future.

Left tackle Joe Staley, 33, appears to have at least a couple more season in him. He scored some big points with the organization with his willingness to return to action just two weeks after sustaining a broken eye socket.

“We love Joe Staley -- love the way he plays, think he’s a really good scheme fit for the offense we play,” Lynch said.

Lynch said he likes the idea of keeping Staley and Brown together for the foreseeable future.

“We feel there are a lot of places where we need to improve,” Lynch said. “And you’re always trying to improve, but those two guys are cornerstones for the next couple, few years.”

ARMSTEAD HAS 'BRIGHT FUTURE'
Defensive lineman Arik Armstead has not produced like a first-round draft pick. And the next time he takes the field for the 49ers, he will be entering his contract year.

Questioning Armstead’s fit for the 49ers’ defensive scheme is reasonable. But Lynch said he believes Armstead has a place with the organization.

“We’re real pleased,” Lynch said. “We think he’s a fit with what we are and who we are, going forward. We think he has a bright future with us.”

Armstead had his best game this season against Washington, a game in which he sustained a broken hand and required season-ending surgery.

“He put it all together,” Lynch said. “It was very encouraging and, at the same time, disappointing.”

ORGANIZATION STUDIES RASH OF INJURIES
The 49ers have 18 players on injured reserve with a variety of physical conditions that knocked them out of action from broken bones to torn ligaments and tendons.

“Some of those things are freak, but, yes, there has been an alarming amount,” Lynch said. “We’re going to study everything. That was part of what I was charged to do, evaluate every facet of the football part of this organization.”

There do not appear to be any obvious answers. Many teams around the league are also experiencing a rash of injuries to star players. On defense, the 49ers lost Armstread (broken hand), linebacker Malcolm Smith (torn pectoral tendon), and safeties Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt (broken forearms) for the season.

“Some of it, broken forearms from two safeties and a broken thumb from a safety, I don’t know what the answer is there,” Lynch said.

“We’re going to take a deep dive – we already are – into why and if there are any common threads. We’re studying it hard.”

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 33-10 loss to Eagles

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USATSI

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 33-10 loss to Eagles

PHILADELPHIA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 33-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 8 on Sunday:

1. INJURIES PILE UP
Free safety Jimmie Ward is likely out for the remainder of the season with a fractured forearm. And left tackle Joe Staley was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation of an injury to the orbital bone after leaving the game with an eye injury.

First-round draft pick Solomon Thomas sustained a knee injury. The initial diagnosis was an injury to his medial-collateral, which is good news. The injury could keep him out of action, but it is not likely to end his rookie season.

The 49ers were not a deep team to begin the season. It was going to be difficult for them to win games at full strength. Now, the 49ers enter their two most winnable games – at home against Arizona and the New York Giants – with a patchwork team on both sides of the ball.

“It’s just the cards we were dealt,” 49ers receiver Pierre Garçon said. “We can’t use it as an excuse. We just have to keep playing, regardless of who’s in there.”

Right tackle Trent Brown was out with a concussion. Backup Garry Gilliam sustained a knee injury. The 49ers ended up with rookie Erik Magnuson at right tackle and veteran guard Zane Beadles at left tackle.

The losses are one thing. The injuries are something else. Coach Kyle Shanahan has a difficult task ahead of him to attempt to keep things together for the second half of the season.

The 2017 edition of the 49ers on Sunday became the first club in franchise history to open the season with eight consecutive losses.

2. BEATHARD HAD LITTLE CHANCE
It would have been plenty difficult for rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard to succeed if the 49ers were at full strength. But combine the injuries to the offensive line and going up against the best team in the league, and Beathard had no chance at all.

“C.J. was battling,” Shanahan said. “He was in some tough situations. By no means was he perfect and there were some plays he missed, but that was a tough game to him in. He never shied away from anything and played extremely tough. But we just have to work on getting better – both him and everyone around him.”

Beathard was under constant pressure. He was sacked four times for 23 yards. The Eagles recorded 12 hits on Beathard, who scrambled six times for 40 yards rushing to lead the 49ers’ non-existent ground game.

Beathard and running back Carlos Hyde had particular difficulty hooking up. Beathard targeted Hyde on nine pass attempts. A couple of his tosses were behind Hyde, who failed to hold onto the ball. Hyde ended up with four receptions for 22 yards on what should have been high-percentage throws.

3. CHANGING FACE OF THE DEFENSE
The 49ers’ defense played about as well as anyone could have hoped on Sunday.

The Eagles managed just 304 yards of total offense, and quarterback Carson Wentz did not completely dice up a 49ers’ secondary that featured some new faces in key roles.

Rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon found out on Tuesday that he would be starting in place of Rashard Robinson. Witherspoon was upbeat after the game, pointing to plays both good and bad from which he can learn and continue to grow.

Witherspoon recorded his first career interception in the second half. But on the next play, he said he misjudged Carson Wentz’s deep pass and gave up a 53-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery.

“I think he did well,” Shanahan said of Witherspoon. “I thought he competed. I know he gave up that go-route, which obviously wasn’t a good play. But he had a big turning point in that game and gave us a chance with that interception.”

Rookie safety Adrian Colbert, a seventh-round draft pick, played most of the game after Ward sustained his injury. The 49ers decided on Colbert over re-inserting Eric Reid at safety. Reid moved full-time to linebacker last week.

49ers review: Thomas does not generate pressure

49ers review: Thomas does not generate pressure

SANTA CLARA – Tank Carradine started for the 49ers on Sunday at right defensive end, but rookie Solomon Thomas saw the bulk of the playing time at that position.

The 49ers got off to a rough start in Kyle Shanahan’s debut as head coach on Sunday with a 23-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers at Levi’s Stadium.

Thomas, the No. 3 overall draft pick, played 64 percent of the 49ers’ defensive snaps. Carradine played 46 percent of the defensive plays. Thomas had a rough opener, failing to get any pressure on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton on 19 passing downs, according to Pro Football Focus.

The 49ers got pressure on Newton on only seven of his 27 drop-backs throughout the game. DeForest Buckner provided about the only pass rush for the 49ers with one quarterback hit and four hurries, according to PFF.

Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster played just 11 snaps before exiting the game with a right ankle sprain. In his limited duty, he registered a high grade with three tackles and a pass broken up.

On offense, Zane Beadles had  lowest PFF grade of any guard through Sunday’s games in Week 1. Beadles allowed a quarterback sack – a game-turning sack-strip against Carolina defensive lineman Wes Horton. He also surrendered a quarterback hit and four hurries while in pass protection.

The 49ers’ best performance on the offensive line came from right tackle Trent Brown, according to PFF. Brown did not allow a quarterback pressure on 41 pass-blocking snaps.

Quarterback Brian Hoyer completed 24 of 35 pass attempts, but struggled on passes down the field. He completed just two of 10 attempts downfield for 26 yards with one interception and an on-target deep ball that Marquise Goodwin dropped.

Here is a look at the 49ers’ playing time on offense, defense and special teams:

OFFENSE
Quarterback – Brian Hoyer 57
Running back – Carlos Hyde 45, Kyle Juszczyk 19, Matt Breida 12, Raheem Mostert 1
Wide receiver – Pierre Garçon 50, Marquise Goodwin 50, Trent Taylor 24, Aldrick Robinson 10, Kendrick Bourne 3
Tight end – George Kittle 54, Garrett Celek 14, Logan Paulsen 3
Offensive line – LT Joe Staley 57, LG Zane Beadles 57, C Daniel Kilgore 57, RG Brandon Fusco 57, RT Trent Brown 57

DEFENSE
Defensive line – DeForest Buckner 53, Arik Armstead 51, Solomon Thomas 43, Earl Mitchell 38, Tank Carradine 31, Elvis Dumervil 16, D.J. Jones 15, Xavier Cooper 14
Linebacker – NaVorro Bowman 66, Ray-Ray Armstrong 45, Eli Harold 30, Dekoda Watson 15, Reuben Foster 11
Cornerback – Dontae Johnson 67, Rashard Robinson 67, K’Waun Williams 29
Safety – Jaquiski Tartt 67, Eric Reid 67, Lorenzo Jerome 12

SPECIAL TEAMS
Brock Coyle 19, Mostert 14, Watson 14, Adrian Colbert 13, Armstrong 12, Celek 12, Harold 12, Johnson 11, Keith Reaser 10, Breida 10, Tartt 9, Reid 9, Robinson 8, Bradley Pinion 7, Paulsen 7, Bourne 7, Carradine 6, Kyle Nelson 5, Buckner 5, Armstead 5, Mitchell 5, Jones 4, Juszczyk 4, Taylor 3, Jerome 2, Robbie Gould 1, Garry Gilliam 1, Staley 1, Beadles 1, Kilgore 1, Fusco 1, Brown 1

DID NOT PLAY
QB C.J. Beathard, OL Erik Magnuson

INACTIVE
WR Victor Bolden, CB Ahkello Witherspoon, DB Jimmie Ward (hamstring), LB Pita Taumoepenu, LB Aaron Lynch (back), OL John Theus, OL Laken Tomlinson